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At the “Showdown in Vegas” Montana Silversmiths presented (9) buckles to the Champions in each event and awarded a special gift to the top 3 Finalists.
The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo celebrates and honors Black Cowboys and Cowgirls and their contributions to building the west. Highlighting the irrefutable global appeal of Black Cowboys and Cowgirls in the West and the stories behind a sub-culture that is still strong today. BPIR also serves as a cultural event and opportunity for families to enjoy and embrace the cowboy culture while being educated and entertained with reenactments, history highlights, and western adventure.
The BPIR was founded in 1984 to both tell the history of Black cowboys and cowgirls and create a space for those Black riders who were not allowed in other rodeo associations at the time. BPIR president Valeria Howard-Cunningham, whose late husband, Lu Vason, founded the organization, sees her role as a springboard for Black athletes to make it to the higher levels of rodeo and bull riding. She gave the example of Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame member Fred Whitfield, who started with the BPIR before becoming one of the most decorated tie-down ropers in rodeo history. BPIR can now further educate audiences about the history of Black cowboys and cowgirls, showcase the talent of Black riders and expand the legacy of the organization’s namesake, Pickett, the son of a former slave who created a rodeo event (“bulldogging”) and, in 1972, became the first Black person inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Montana Silversmiths corporate partner, the Professional Bull Riders will coproduce multiple events involving the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR), in conjunction with PBR’s two largest tour series, Unleash the Beast and the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour, which air on CBS and the CBS Sports Network.